UK meddling delayed demolition of illegal Bedouin outpost, group claims

British interference against the Arab outpost’s demolition runs contrary to an Israeli High Court decision.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Edwin Samuel, British Foreign Office Spokesperson in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), recently visited the illegal Arab outpost of Khan al-Ahmar, where he declared that the British government “is conducting a campaign to save this village.”

Prime Minister Theresa May had already called on Israel to refrain from destroying the settlement in October, arguing that it would endanger “prospects for a two-state solution.”

Former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman toured Khan al-Ahmar on Tuesday and noted that the ministry had completed all necessary preparations for the relocation of the residents there in October.

On the day before the operation was scheduled to take place, Liberman says, he received a letter from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructing him to delay the eviction of the village. The next morning, October 21, ministers were convened, says the former defense minister, and they voted to delay the evacuation by a number of weeks no later than the end of 2018.

Regavim, an Israeli NGO that has played a leading legal role in trying to ensure the evacuation, argues that there is “a clear connection between the senior British diplomat’s statement and Netanyahu’s decision to indefinitely suspend implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision.”

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Meir Deutsch, director general of Regavim, sharply criticized Netanyahu, ridiculing the multiple roles the prime minister has taken for himself.

“It becomes clear that Prime Minister Netanyahu is allowing the British to act as though the Mandate is still in force,” says Deutsch. “Unfortunately, Defense Minister Netanyahu’s indecisiveness is given full expression in Foreign Minister Netanyahu’s anemic diplomatic response to this blatant meddling in Israel’s internal affairs.”

In September, Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected the fifth petition submitted by the residents of Khan al-Ahmar, ruling that there are no legal obstacles standing in the way of implementation of an earlier court decision in June.  The High Court decision ended a 10-year legal battle over the illegal settlement.

In the clip recorded at Khan al-Ahmar, Samuel says: “We are here in Khan al-Ahmar, a village in the West Bank on occupied Palestinian land. Behind me are the tents of Bedouin who have lived here for a very long time, now threatened with demolition and displacement at the hands of the Israeli government.”

Britain isn’t the only country to weigh in on Khan al-Ahmar. Numerous countries, as well as the U.N., have argued against its destruction.

In October, the French daily Le Monde reported that Liberman sent a memo to the ambassadors of eight countries – Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Poland, Belgium, and the Netherlands – criticizing them for interfering in Israel’s domestic affairs after those nations released a statement warning that Khan al-Ahmar’s demolition “would be very serious and would severely threaten the viability of the two-state solution and undermine prospects for peace.”